An okapi calf was born in a Copenhagen Zoo for the first time in half a century on Sunday (2 October). The animal that is also known as a "forest giraffe" was due to be born in approximately two months.
The mother okapi had suffered a miscarriage previously, so the zookeepers were incredibly surprised when she started to go into labour, according to the Jyllands Posten newspaper.
The Copenhagen Zoo previously bred okapis in 1948 after one was transferred from Congo, Kenya. However, The Danish zoo had been unable to mate the okapis since then.
According to the zoo's vet, the calf and the mother are both in good condition.
Okapi's are usually pregnant for 425 days – 15 months.
The okapi is a distinct looking animal because of its zebra-like stripes, and it is often mistaken to be a relation to zebra. However, genetically it's a cousin of the giraffe. The animal's natural habitat are rainforests and it originates from Africa.
They are extremely rare animals. Their current population is estimated at 10,000-20,000 worldwide.
In 1994, an okapi called Katanda died in Copenhagen Zoo, due to too much stress triggered by an opera production nearby. Okabis are extremely sensitive towards loud noises and as a result of the music, the animal started to hyperventilate and died. Katanda had been transferred from San Diego zoo and gave birth eight months before her death.
Copenhagen Zoo has become infamous for some high-profile animal deaths. The zoo has previously euthanised a giraffe, shooting the animal and feeding it to lions. Anger was sparked worldwide after it was revealed that the zoo received offers to rehouse the giraffe but did not take them up, as it considered the dead animal unsuitable for a breeding programme, because its genes could have introduced genetic disorders in the captive giraffe population.
The zoo also later euthanised a family of lions after it failed to rehome them.